Football; it's both the most supported sport in the world and the one that attracts the most bets. The biggest football leagues in the world reside in Europe, for the most part. Unfortunately, most of them finish at the same time and make the summer quite empty, leaving a void.
Luckily, there are a whole world of other sports that take place over the summer months, including some very competitive leagues for bettors to make the most of. Let's start with some football from other areas of the world...
Despite the big leagues of Europe shutting down for the summer months, a lot of great football takes place over the summer – and you can bet on it all! The premier summer leagues include those in Scandinavia, East Asia, and North America.
Right now, you can bet on the Finnish Veikkausliiga, where HJK are the clear favourites at 1/5, with SJK Seinajoki not so close behind at 5/1. As for the Norwegian Eliteserien, you can get 1/7 on Rosenborg to be the best in the Midt-Norge and 6/5 on Stromsgodset to be the best in the Ostlandet, with Sarpsborg 08 at 5/2.
If Swedish football’s more your thing, turn to the premier Allsvenskan league, where you can bet on a huge range of markets, including best-promoted team, best in Stockholm, and many player markets as well. Malmo FF are edging the betting at 7/4 to win the league. The Scandinavian leagues all get underway between the middle of March and the start of April and continue through the summer.
Over in Japan and South Korea, two of the most exciting leagues are already underway. Watch any highlights of the J1-League or K-League 1 and you’ll see stands awash with colour and bouncing fans. You can follow and bet on all K-League 1 games each week, and can also back outrights in the J1-League. The Japanese top division is hotly contested, with Kawasaki Frontale at 4/1, Kashima Antlers at 9/2, and the Urawa Red Diamonds at 6/1 to win the league.
The MLS is already underway, and you can find odds for every single game as well as a huge number of outright markets, which include the MLS winner, MLS MVP winner, top goalscorer, top assists, and the winners of each conference. So far, Toronto FC are favoured to win the MLS at 4/1, with the Seattle Sounders and New York City FC at 7/1.
But, the ultimate event on the calendar this year, the biggest sports event in the world, is the World Cup. Taking place in Russia this summer, the World Cup betting is already underway. Many great teams are in the mix to win it this year, including Brazil and Germany at 19/4, France at 11/2, Spain at 7/1, and Argentina at 9/1.
Probably the biggest ice hockey league in the world is the NHL and, while the regular season is close to reaching its conclusion, the NHL is far from finished. The Stanley Cup playoffs get underway in April and run through to June. Playoff ice hockey produces incredible performances and huge upsets, which bettors often make the most of. In each NHL game, all year around, you can make the most of our special player markets, which include goal scorers and point scorers.
The regular season standings will greatly sway current odds but the best team in the NHL regular season has only gone on to win the Stanley Cup in eight of the last 31 seasons. So, while the Tampa Bay Lightning are 11/2 to win the cup now, other teams with rosters that are perceived to be better in the playoffs may usurp them.
The Nashville Predators have a strong team at 7/1, as do the Pittsburgh Penguins who are going for three cups in a row at 10/1. Or, there’s the Vegas Golden Knights who are brand new in the league and could complete their fairytale start with a cup win at 11/1.
While there is a perceived break in the boxing world, world-class fights take place all year round. This summer, there is a stellar line-up of big boxing bouts.
May starts off with two rematches. The hotly anticipated bout between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin comes to fruition on 6th May after the first bout controversially ended in a split decision. The Kazakh is favoured at 13/25 to win comprehensively this time around.
The less anticipated rematch of Tony Bellew versus David Haye takes place on 5th May, with Haye expected to redeem himself and win at 2/5. The first match saw Bellew put in a good boxing display while Haye was very poor and simply swung for the fences – which effectively resulted in an injury to his Achilles – so anything could happen in this fight.
Later in May, there’s also the mega fight on 11th May between Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev, in which Usyk looks to demonstrate his dominance as the 33/100 favourite. In another five-star fight on 19th May, Lee Selby takes on Josh Warrington, with the challenger at 7/2 to get a surprise win.
Summer brings about two massive Grand Slam events in tennis. First comes the French Open from 27th May to 10th June, which the ‘King of the Clay’ Rafael Nadal is expected to win at 9/10. His closest competitor, Novak Djokovic, is at long odds of 5/1.
Shortly after the French Open comes Wimbledon, which is seen by many as the premier event on the outdoor grass calendar. In both the men’s and the women’s tennis, there are a couple of favourites to take the trophy. Roger Federer is at 7/4 while Serena Williams is at 11/4 to win at Wimbledon.
The Formula One season may start at the end of March but the summer is where the top drivers begin to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
During the summer months, F1 fans will be treated to the Spanish Grand Prix (11-13th May), Monaco Grand Prix (24-27th May), Canadian Grand Prix (8-10th June), French Grand Prix (22-24th June), Austrian Grand Prix (29th June to 1st July), British Grand Prix (6-8th July), German Grand Prix (20-22nd July), and the Hungarian Grand Prix (27-29th July).
Coming into the season, Mercedes GP are firm 4/9 favourites to win the Constructors’ Championship, with their lead driver Lewis Hamilton at 9/10 odds of winning the Drivers’ Championship. But Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, currently 7/2 in 888sport's betting odds, will be hot on his tail this year.
Of all of the major sports leagues in North America, the MLB is the one that dominates the summer months. Preseason, or spring training, has recently started, and the season doesn’t come to a close until the World Series sometime around November. You can, of course, bet on every spring training game and regular season game now and through the summer.
As for the ultimate prize, the World Series, last year’s finalists, the Los Angeles Dodgers, are favoured at 6/1 to redeem themselves this year. Still considered to be the best team in the league, the Houston Astros are at 13/2 to win the World Series again, with the New York Yankees also on the same odds.
Swinging in over the summer is a huge event on the golfing calendar. The 147th Open Championship gets underway on 19th July and runs until 22nd July. While Duston Johnson and Rory McIlroy are in the running at 14/1 and 12/1, respectively, it’s Jordan Spieth at 10/1 who is expected to lift the trophy.
For many, the primary betting events are those in the world of football, particularly the Premier League, the other top European divisions, and the continental club competitions. But even when the UEFA Champions League final rings in the close of the season, there is a huge range of sports and betting markets to get stuck into.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*